As a small business owner, I support Measure M.
Like most small business owners, my relationship with sales tax is a complicated one. The local government, and voters, have been very comfortable with taxing people at the retail sales counter – a method of taxation that impacts people in my community, working people who are my customers and friends, more than a property tax or an income tax would.
On the other side of that equation, however, are local government programs that directly benefits my business, my customers, and my neighbors. As a candidate for City Council District 1, I support Measure M because it will benefit my constituents too.
My business depends on foot traffic: people walking, bicycling, or driving past my doors, noticing something in the shop window, and making a trip inside to check it out. My business also depends on people being able to make short trips from nearby neighborhoods, lured by social media content, fun events, and (here is where Measure M comes in) stress-free travel.
In case you haven’t noticed, foot traffic at many retail corridors in Los Angeles is terrible. Our foot traffic is low for lots of very simple reasons. Sidewalks in Los Angeles are in shambles, our streets in shopping corridors are designed like racetracks between red lights, and walking or bicycling is dangerous (by design). Further, taking a train or bus is often inconvenient due to long waits between buses or trains, low quality stops, and stations with no amenities.
Measure M provides for the needs of my small business by setting aside an unprecedented amount of money to close the LA River trail gaps between the San Fernando Valley, the LA Basin, and Long Beach, including critical links to surrounding neighborhood streets, a big opportunity for small business owners.
Measure M also provides for a massive investment in “subregional projects and programs.” This set aside will help fund Mayor Eric Garcetti’s visionary Great Streets program and the Vision Zero initiative. Both of these home-grown programs help make our walk-up retail corridors into financial winners for the city, property owners, and retailers alike.
Measure M will continue to deliver the promise of Metro’s Measure R. It will support convenient light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) travel throughout the region, increased bike share, and fund a host of programs to support the cultural changes necessary to transition from a car-only system to a system that provides healthier, affordable, transportation options for every resident of LA County.
As a small business owner, there is a lot to fear about yet another sales tax keeping my customer base from spending. Measure M, however, will deliver to the bottom line of small, walk-up, retailers. We’ll have more foot traffic, from a broader spectrum of customers. We’ll have more discretionary trips on foot, on transit, and on bicycles, and with that, more discretionary spending.
I support Measure M because, from behind the counter of my small shop, it’s just good business.